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March 26, 2009

How to Say Spay

Here in D.C., we are getting our first sightings of the messengers of spring—crocuses, daffodils, and songbirds, with cherry blossoms soon to come. But for animal shelters and rescues in D.C. and elsewhere throughout the nation, other harbingers of spring are baskets and boxes of homeless kittens and puppies being dropped off or found abandoned in the community.

This kitten and puppy season will extend into summer and often strain the resources of shelters, which especially in this economy are struggling. We know the unfortunate results, yet we also know how to prevent it: by promoting and enabling spay and neuter in our communities.

Spay/neuter billboard 9 lives

For the past five months we’ve been rolling out a social marketing campaign in Louisiana and Mississippi, encouraging Gulf Coast residents to spay and neuter their pets. In February I hinted at the first promising results and now I have an update. We’ve just posted all of the materials borne of the project at

Please take a moment to watch the television ads, view the billboards, posters and other creative materials, and read our report, which provides detailed findings from our research concerning owners of unaltered pets, and explains the science behind the ads.

The ads are already proving effective according to the accounts of personnel in spay/neuter clinics and shelters in the advertising markets, and we anticipate a bigger impact in the coming years. Even better, the ads and campaign strategy will be applicable beyond the Gulf, providing a template for increasing spaying and neutering and reducing pet overpopulation and euthanasia all across the country. Be sure to bookmark the campaign’s website because we’ll soon be sharing materials that you can download, modify with your community’s information, and put to use. And if you’re an HSUS member, look for a larger story about the campaign in the current issue of All Animals, which is mailing now.

We are very proud of this groundbreaking effort—a joint project of The HSUS and Maddie’s Fund—and we’re excited to share the results. I’d love to hear what you think.

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